CLC-Tulay Kay Kristo, NCR


….….a journey that continues………

First it was a colorum nursery school teaching the alphabet, numbers, shapes and colors, and located on a rotating basis among homes in the Santolan Road depressed community referred to as the Tarnate Compound. It then moved to the barangay compound on Alvir Street.  Connie Calimon began this little nursery school in 2001 but soon realized that the formation of good children was rooted in the formation of good parents. A member of the Discreta Caritate Serviam (DCS), a CLC based in the Mary the Queen Parish, Connie formed the first community in the Tarnate Compound in 2003 and the second and third communities sometime later. Members of the faith communities were mothers in the area, more mothers in the area, and then young mothers who were daughters of the original mothers. Formation materials of these communities then were translations of books by Frs. Mark Link and Ramon Bautista, plus assorted CLC modules.

The community, through the  mothers, realized  the untenability  of their stay  in the Tarnate compound and  began  in  2004 tentative  explorations  of  more permanent  solutions to  their housing situation.  It was only in 2007 that these explorations became more serious, as the first demolition order of their homes was issued. In 2009, a second demolition order saw the mothers seeking alternative housing still more seriously, talking with anyone and everyone who would listen: an anonymous donor of land from the Parish, the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP), Bayan ni Juan in Calauan, Gawad Kalinga, Domus Mariae, Habitat for Humanity, DCS-CLC. Typhoon Ondoy convinced the LGU that the families were indeed in a dangerous location and facilitated their demolition. Away the families went, to Cavite, Taytay and wherever temporary digs could be found. But the families now had the PCUP’s attention because the latter’s (Emergency Land Acquisition for Victims of Eviction and Demolition) ELAVED Program covered the residents’ situation.

Sixty hours of labor equity qualified each family for a house in Sitio Sumilang, Barangay San Jose, Antipolo City. Friends of the community - the Christian Life Community of the Philippines, the Mary the Queen Parish and other sponsors – contributed food to workers who helped build the houses. In early 2011, the first of 44 families from the Santolan Tarnate Community moved into the brand – new CHB – sawali – GI sheet 24 – sqm homes, complete with toilet and bath area.

The relocation site accommodates demolished areas in Manila, Quezon City, San Juan, Caloocan. Most were victims of Typhoon Ondoy. The place has nearby schools but the nearest government hospital is two towns away in Morong, Rizal. The wet and dry market is a ?20 tricycle ride to Teresa. Two years ago Meralco installed electricity. Running water is limited and many of the over 1100 households still use the artesian well as water source. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that each person has the right to life which includes the basic needs (food, clothing, and shelter), electricity, education, health etc. All of the prescribed needs of the human person must be provided by the state before moving the people into the relocation site. On – site or nearby livelihood opportunities must be available because their absence will again result in urban migration.  In reality, most of the people travel back to San Juan and environs everyday for their work.  The ?150.00 some earn per day cannot meet the needs of a family with an average of 4 – 6 children. At first, people hesitated about staying in the area because work and other facilities were not accessible. With time, they learned to manage their expectations. Caritas Manila offered livelihood training and income – generating projects but few were successfully pursued because of both limited capitalization and market accessibility.

The Tulay kay Kristo” CLC experienced the hardships like other people living in the site.  Members learn to deal with these difficulties in the light of faith through formation programs in their community.  Distance has limited meetings to once a month.  To make these meetings more efficient, members decided to consolidate the older Tulay kay Kristo community with the former Angelus and Young Mothers’ Group. Attendance has dwindled; often, it is mothers with older children who are more faithful in going to meetings, with Richard often the lone male. Beginning this year, the group initiated military time so that meetings now start at the time promised. The adults undergo prayer sessions based on themes provided by their guide.  They meet at 10:30 am usually every fourth Sunday.  On occasion, certain members meet with the guide for private consultation.  Emilie Dante, Coordinator of Tulay kay

Kristo shared with me part of the story of their journey.

Networking with other CLCers is important to this community. Many CLCers have skills and can serve as  a pool of resource persons handling various training according to expertise.  Recently, Theody Demaisip of Tantum Quantum gave them the “Financial Management Training” to introduce them to the concept of spending according to their earnings and learning to save small amounts for emergencies.  Part of the module was to teach them the proper budgeting and discipline to buy only necessary items. The mothers are always hungry about learning new things. Connie sees the larger community’s role as introducing the mothers to other ways of doing things: applying to government offices on their own, disciplining children in new ways, being introduced to prayer, reflection and recollection.

Hand – outs are given for every session so the women can use the material for the day’s prayer session and also as take – home for further reflection. For the session I attended on June 15, 2015, members first reviewed their lessons from Theody’s crash course on financial management. This previous meeting helped them make adjustments on their budget and encouraged them to pay any loans or debts they owed.  They also learned the new formula in order to save in that self – help process.

i.e. income – savings – provisions for healthcare = amount that may be spent

(150.00– 10.00 – 10.00= 130.00)

The topic for the day’s prayer session was the Principle and Foundation, why we are here.  Members shared their interpretations based on their life experiences.  It led them to seek God in their life and find meaning in all things they do.  They also learned to listen to the voice of God speaking to them amidst on their daily struggles to live and respond to the demands of the time.  The members of the “Tulay kay Kristo” Community are growing in faith – life experiences.

On Sustainability:

Sustainable Development was defined as:…development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (United Nations World Commission).  Sustainability depicts on the growth of the people considering the economic, social, political, cultural, ecological and spiritual dimensions present in the community.  Tulay kay Kristo is moving towards this level.  They have abundance in livelihood training facilitated by Caritas – Manila as well as business ideas taught them by fellow CLCers. The only thing perhaps is to bring the market close to them. This plan will be pursued with the support of the CLC Communities in business training and assisting a livelihood project, both in terms of funding and markets.

We are community of equals which God had created the same.  This is the way we express love of God and love of neighbor.  Let us support one another!

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